Grégoire’s Restaurant, Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

What a pleasure it is, to find an establishment willing to put some effort into the humble sandwich. Part of the joy of sandwiches is how simple they can be; one often needs nothing more than two pieces of bread and a bit of something else to have a fine bite to eat. But another part of the joy of sandwiches is that they really can be taken to some wonderful heights. Such is the case with Grégoire Restaurant, a tiny establishment in Oakland that does brisk takeout business providing “gourmet food made affordable.” Above is the pulled lamb shoulder sandwich: lamb, with espellette pepper, sour onions and artichoke chips on ciabatta. This was an exquisite sandwich, a layering of subtle flavors all built around rich, savory lamb. The artichoke chips were bits of fried artichoke, which brought a bit of crunchy texture to the sandwich with a flavor not typically seen. The onions were not particularly sour and the espellette is a rather mild pepper, leaving the sandwich well balanced and altogether delightful.

Unfortunately, I did not quite care for the fried chicken sandwich, but I want to make no mark against it. Here we had fried buttermilk chicken with spicy cole slaw on french roll. A simple, honest sandwich. The spice was in the manner of wing sauce, which is far from my favorite heat profile and a big part of what I didn’t enjoy about the sandwich. The chicken was fresh fried, though, the slaw crispy and well paired. The execution was there, and in light of the first sandwich it was clear there was no real failing here, it just wasn’t my style of sandwich. This isn’t a two-ingredient sandwich because someone was lazy or anything of the sort. It’s was that someone put these two things together, saw that it was enough, and was wise enough to stop there. The resulting sandwich wasn’t for me, but it’s easy to see someone else thinking it quite nice. That’s inevitably the result when someone cares, and it’s very clear that someone at Grégoire’s cares very much indeed.

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